Aurora woman blamed for spoofed phone calls

Posted at 11:00 PM, Sep 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 01:00:58-04

It is annoying enough getting a hang-up phone call, but what if your phone number was used to make it look like the call came from you?

An Aurora woman has received dozens of phone calls from people telling her to stop calling them and hanging up. The problem is, she isn't making any of the phone calls.

"I started getting calls from people saying that I had called them and hung up. They said my name, my phone number would show up on their caller ID," said Betty Schmidt. "On (September) 21st, I got a total of 28 phone calls."

Schmidt's number is likely being "spoofed," used by someone else to appear like she's making the phone calls. Previous incidents of "spoofing" have involved phone calls that appear to be coming from the IRS, but are scammers trying to get personal information.

All of the people calling Schmidt have told her she is simply calling and hanging up.

"Some people were very understanding about it when I explained that I had not called, that it had to be some telemarketers that were using my number, but other people were very angry, wouldn't listen," she said. "One lady said she was going to call the Better Business Bureau and report me."

She showed 7NEWS a list of the phone numbers that called her and the times that they called.

"9:24, 9:27, 9:34, 9:35," she read. "11:04, 11:06, 11:09, 11:12. Some of them were like two or three minutes apart."

Schmidt first called her phone provider, CenturyLink, to figure out how to solve the problem.

"They told me to call the 'Annoyance Call Center.' I thought it was aptly named," said Schmidt.

She was told, albeit annoying, her calls did not fit the call center. She was then told to call the Federal Trade Commission, which handles complaints about the "Do Not Call Registry."

"They suggested that I change my phone number," said Schmidt. "A lot of phone calls I'd have to make changing my phone number, and that really was not something I wanted to do."

She then called 7NEWS and we suggested that she call the Federal Communications Commission, which reported at least 11,000 spoofing complaints this year. The FCC recommended against changing her number.

"She said it would be awful to go through all that, changing your phone number, and have them do the same thing all over again on the new phone number," said Schmidt. "In this age of technology, I said, 'I can't understand that somehow they can't find these people or locate them or trace them down or something,' but she said it's almost impossible."

At an FCC workshop on robocalls and spoofing last week, panelists from the call blocking industry admitted that tracking a spoofed call is nearly impossible.

"A lot of consumers and a lot of people think that they fake a phone number and that you can kind of peel off the fake number and underneath it is the right one. That we can just go and find that. That hasn't been like that for years and years and years," said Aaron Foss, founder of Nomorobo, a call blocking company.

If you too are experiencing unwanted phone calls, click on the following links:

Colorado Attorney General Consumer Fraud, Federal Trade Commission Robocall Complaints and the Federal Communication Commission Caller ID and Spoofing

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